State of the Union: Will Obama's push to the center appeal to the left?
Obama's State of the Union address will emphasize both job creation and deficit reduction, a centrist agenda. In an appeal to his base, the president sends his backers a video preview.
Nearly three months after his self-described “shellacking” in the midterm elections in November, President Barack Obama will deliver a State of the Union address that appeals to the political center, emphasizing both job creation and deficit reduction.Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Obama, who has signaled in both word and deed a move toward the political center ever since the elections, has been buoyed by the stirrings of a recovery both in his job-approval rating and, perhaps not coincidentally, in the US economy.
Some political analysts are pointing to the flurry of year-end bipartisan legislation in the lame-duck Congress as one factor in Obama’s resurgence in the polls, which included a significant recovery in his standing among independent voters, a key constituency.
But a centerpiece of that burst of legislation was a compromise with Republicans on the Bush-era tax cuts, a political deal that noticeably angered his liberal base. Now, as Obama puts forth his agenda to Congress and the country – at a time that some potential GOP challengers are engaged in pre-campaign throat-clearing – does he run the risk of further angering the Democratic left?
A key indicator is from Obama himself, who chose as the venue to preview his State of the Union address a video emailed Saturday to supporters who helped put him in office. In the video posted on the website of Organizing for America, the successor organization to Obama for America, the president says his principal focus is to create jobs, “not just now but well into the future.”
Obama’s message to his supporters was that America would have to “out-innovate, out-build, out-compete, and out-educate” other countries. But he also appeared to invoke traditionally Republican themes when he spoke of the needs “to deal with deficits, and our debt, in a responsible way” as well as “to reform government so that it’s leaner and smarter for the 21st century.”